The Kauawhi Project

Posted by Nicola Bell on 3rd Nov 2021

The Kauawhi Project

We have been very busy here at Carry Kāpiti, and when I say ‘we’, I really just mean me :) Carry Kāpiti is a one person operation these days! I recently changed our name from Kāpiti Babywearing because I wanted people to know that you can carry tamariki of all ages.

Recently I saw advertised the first Hapū Wānanga ki te Upoko o Te Ika - a kaupapa Māori focused education programme to support whānau and revitalise traditional Māori hapūtanga practices. I immediately got in touch with the two midwives running it, Fiona Barriball and Tessa Fee, and offered a free babywearing workshop. They were super keen. 

Then I started scheming! I had been involved in the Sleep Store Recarry initiative a few years ago where we loaned out stretchy wraps to whānau for as long as they needed them at no cost. I had a dream to provide these Hapū Wānanga whānau with the same service, so I got in touch with Louise, and true to her usual generous self, she was very keen to get on board. Very soon after, 30 brand new Boba wraps arrived on my doorstep!

Next up was creating the workshop materials. I don’t know about you, but in my 5 years of babywearing volunteering and training, I still stumble over the safety guidelines TICKS. I get confused around the C-K-S, and I feel like some of the letters mean the same thing anyway…. ABC is another one which is ok, and I learned HANDS during my training which again was ok, but I really wanted something awesome. 

So I started doing some research, talked with my dear friends Dr Rongoitekai Ngata and Olivia Chubb, and created our own safety guidelines for Aotearoa. All of a sudden it just fell into place and felt right. I hope that it will be used widely around New Zealand! My logo was designed by the incredibly talented Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho. Liz Harte from Pēpi Penapena has created a video about tūpuna Māori use of te pīkau and she kindly agreed that I could use her information in my workshop too. And so the Kauawhi project was born!

The workshop itself was heaps of fun. We talked about the history of using te pīkau - the baby carrier, and the benefits. Then it was demo time. As always, the māmā looked a bit freaked out when I started waving 4 metres of fabric around, but loved the look of it once the demo pēpi was snuggled in and were all keen to have a go themselves. Many loved it so much that they didn’t want to borrow mine, they just wanted to buy their own. Louise generously provided a discount code so there will be lots of happy snuggled pēpi around Wellington soon enough. Tess and Fi borrowed one each so that they can share their new skills with the whānau they are working with too.

My friend and fellow babywearing consultant Penina from Island Carrier have a dream to get wraps to all whānau who want them, so watch this space!

Thanks again to Louise and The Sleep Store for their generous support of this project, and of Carry Kāpiti in general - many of our carriers we can loan out have been donated by them.